MOSCOW (CWNews.com) - Russian Orthodox
Patriarch Aleksei II again lashed out at Catholics on
Friday, criticizing the Church for seeking converts in the
former Soviet Union.
"If they consider Orthodoxy to be just as beneficial and
capable of salvation as Catholicism, then what is the sense
of this constant effort to draw people into the other
faith?" the patriarch was quoted as saying by Interfax news
agency. He accused Catholics of converting people in parts
of Ukraine, where he said Ukrainian Catholics were
attempting to take back churches confiscated by the Soviets
in 1945 and given to Orthodox parishes.
When Catholic parishes reclaim their churches, many
Orthodox who have worshipped there for decades often
continue to attend church there, essentially becoming
Catholics. Ukrainian-rite Catholics celebrate a similar
liturgy to that celebrated by Orthodox Christians.
Acknowledging that many people in former Soviet Republics
had been stripped of any religious heritage by the
Communists, Aleksei added in an interview with Interfax
that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches should work
together to bring about a moral rebirth. But he repeated
his refusal to meet Pope John Paul II unless relations
"Between the two Churches there stand serious problems that
are not at all the fault of Orthodox Christians," Aleksei
said. "The future of our relations with the Catholic
Church, including the level of our contacts, depends on
overcoming these difficulties."
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